In 2019 the Carter G. Woodson Institute, founded to teach and research African-American studies at the University of Virginia, announced a major initiative: a six-part podcast series exploring “Jefferson’s complicated legacy.” Funding was obtained, a launch party was thrown, and two episodes were aired. Then the podcast went silent.
What happened? Why didn’t the Woodson Institute follow the project to completion? Why would UVa heavily promote the initiative in its house media only to let it quietly disappear?
It is an arcane story, yet a telling one. It reveals much about what UVa has become. Ever since the infamous F— UVA sign was posted on the Lawn and its author referred in a secretly recorded conversation with President Jim Ryan to Thomas Jefferson as a “slave-holding rapist,” many alumni have wondered where the animus against Jefferson originated. The answer is that it comes in considerable part from the administration.
The rollout.The Woodson Institute filed a grant application with UVA’s Bicentennial Fund to produce the six episodes and was awarded $20,000 to do so. The timeline in the grant application anticipated a release in the fall of 2018 in the lead-up to the 200th anniversary of UVa’s founding.
The rollout didn’t take place until February 2019. That month UVA Today featured, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” billing it as a six-part series exploring explore Jefferson’s legacy.Continue reading →
Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and is widely believed by able and honorable people to have raped the enslaved child Sally Hemings and fathered all her children. Therefore, it’s understandable that some wish to see our third president “canceled,” to use the Woke vernacular.
Today would be Jefferson’s 280th birthday, so it seems fitting to pause briefly and reassess these horrendous allegations. I have studied Thomas Jefferson for more than half a century, and I am delighted to report that his critics are misinformed.
In reality, Thomas Jefferson may well have been America’s first abolitionist. Moreover, by far the most thorough investigation of the alleged Jefferson-Hemings sexual relationship—a year-long inquiry involving more than a dozen senior professors from all over the country—concluded (with but a single mild dissent) that the allegation is false.
The next best thing to Douglas Murray live is Douglas Murray online! His brilliant defense of Thomas Jefferson and Western Civilization, co-sponsored by the Jefferson Council and the Common Sense Society at the University of Virginia, is now available.
Lee Habeeb, best known as host of the “Our American Stories” podcast network, graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1991. Newsweek has just published his letter to President Jim Ryan defending Thomas Jefferson’s legacy. The Jefferson Council cannot republish the letter here without permission, but we recommend it to you. Read the letter here.
Habeeb has been keeping up with the Jefferson bashing that occurs at UVa, and he makes a powerful case for continuing to honor his legacy. Defining Jefferson by his status as a slave-holder devoid of any historical context is a huge mistake, he says.
“Millions of men around the world in our founders’ time owned slaves; only one authored the Declaration of Independence,” he writes. “This doesn’t make Jefferson’s slave ownership less odious or hypocritical; it makes Jefferson a man of his time. The declaration, however, made him a man for all time. A man ahead of his time.”
The following letter was sent by The Jefferson Council to the UVA Alumni Association Board of Managers.
Dear Board Member and fellow Wahoo,
We are writing to make sure you are aware of the recent action taken by the Alumni Association to reject our proposed advertisement in the forthcoming issue of the Virginia Magazine. We believe this action is totally improper, is inconsistent with the spirit of our Alumni Association, is in violation of the recently adopted Statement of the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, and is legally in violation of our First Amendment rights.
As some background, if you are not acquainted with the Jefferson Council, we are a quickly growing group of UVA alumni, students and faculty who are dedicated to preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the integrity of the Lawn, the vibrancy of the Honor Code and insuring the existence of intellectual diversity on Grounds.
We had an introductory full page ad in the last edition of the Magazine: Continue reading →
The Jefferson Council, formed by University of Virginia alumni and other stakeholders, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the Lawn, the Honor Code, and the free exchange of competing ideas and intellectual diversity one would expect from Mr. Jefferson’s university.
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Friends and Allies
Many organizations are championing the cause of intellectual diversity and fighting the cancel culture on college campuses. If you are interested in pursuing these topics, we recommend you check these organizations.